Drugs Live returns to C4 to examine effects of 'Skunk' Cannabis


Guy Martin: Speed

Speaking at Channel 4 Sales 2014 Upfront event, Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt announced major new programme commissions including the return of Drugs Live – with new ground-breaking scientific trials looking at the effects on the brain of high strength ‘Skunk’ cannabis.

Also at the 2014 Upfront event, Jay announced a brand new series, Guy Martin: Speed – in which the renowned motorcycle racer, engineer and presenter takes on four speed based challenges to explore the boundaries of physics and learn about the science of speed. The challenges include an attempt to break the British record for outright speed on a bicycle – at 110mph; riding a motorbike across a lake; and flying using muscle power alone.

Channel 4’s historical drama, The Mill – which averaged 3.2 million viewers across its run this summer, will also return for a second series. The second season will follow life at Quarry Bank Mill between 1838 and 1842; a time of great political change following the Poor Act Amendment of 1834 which put the blame of poverty on the poor themselves – making the distinction between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor.

And, following the tremendous success of the critically-adored ratings hit Educating Yorkshire, Channel 4 will revisit Thornhill Community Academy in a special one-off documentary produced by TwoFour to catch up with some of the best loved characters from the series. Airing as a Christmas special, the film will see how they are getting on in the new school year and celebrate some of the highlights of the series.

Full details of the new commissions are attached below:

Channel 4 Drugs Live Looks at Effects and Dangers of High Strength ‘Skunk’ Cannabis

Following on from last year’s Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, Channel 4 is to broadcast a ground-breaking scientific trial looking at the effects on the brain of ‘Skunk’ – the high strength variety of cannabis widely available in Britain today.

The feature-length one-off programme, Drugs Live: Cannabis (date tbc), will follow the trial which will be conducted at University College London by two of the world’s leading experts on the effects of illegal drugs on the brain, psychopharmacologists Professor Val Curran from UCL and Professor David Nutt from Imperial College.

Last year cannabis was smoked by 2 million people in the UK, making it the most commonly used illicit drug and half of 16-29 year olds have tried it at least once. ‘Skunk’ is a strong form of cannabis that has become more prevalent in the UK. But it is very different from old-style cannabis resin.

Compared to cannabis resin, Skunk has far higher levels of the psychoactive agent THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) – which is what makes users ‘stoned’, but it can also make some people anxious and some experience psychosis-like symptoms. Unlike resin, Skunk also has virtually no CBD (Cannabidiol), which has almost opposite effects to THC – it can calm people down and has anti-psychotic properties.

Some believe that ‘Skunk’ is far more addictive than other forms of cannabis and that it can provoke paranoid episodes and contribute to memory loss. The trial is designed to test these hypotheses using rigorous scientific methodology.

In the double-blind trial volunteers with previous experience of the drug will, on three separate occasions, take doses of ‘Skunk’, cannabis resin and a placebo as part of a scientific study under laboratory conditions. The research will be ethically approved and closely supervised by medical staff.

fMRI scans and cognitive tests will examine the neurological and psychological effects of these two types of cannabis on the brain, on memory and on psychological well being. Elements of the trial will be broadcast live alongside studio discussions with research scientists, health professionals, politicians, as well as cannabis users and drug campaigners from all sides of the debate. The programme will also take questions from viewers and, alongside the programme, there will be extensive online resources and links to support and advice.

As well as exploring the effects of cannabis on the brain, the programme will debate the risks of taking the drug, potential medical uses of cannabis (e.g. for those suffering chronic pain) and the effectiveness of the law. It will also explore the history and chemistry of cannabis, see heavy ‘Skunk’ users trying to quit the drug in a UK addiction treatment centre and go out with police on a raid to a ‘Skunk farm’.

Professor Val Curran said: “This is hugely exciting and important research project which will show how Skunk and resin produce different effects on the human brain, mind and behaviour. Channel 4’s Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial was watched by around two million young people in the UK last year and many more across the internet. My hope is that this new programme will scientifically inform those who use, have used or are thinking of using this drug about the effects of different types of cannabis.”

Drugs Live: Cannabis will be shown next year on Channel 4. The 1 x 90-minute programmes is being made by Renegade Productions, the executive producer is Alan Hayling.

Guy Martin: Speed (w/t)

Motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin loves pushing the boundaries of speed in search of a buzz. He claims that nothing can match the adrenaline rush he gets when racing on public roads around the Isle of Man TT course at 200mph. So now he’s setting out to see if he can find anything that can give him the same kicks.

This four part series follows Guy as he sets out to create four speed based challenges in which he will explore the boundaries of physics and learn about the science of speed. Whether it’s slip-streaming a racing driver to ride a bicycle at over 100mph using pedal power, or seeing if he can ride a motorbike across a lake, Guy will seek to find out what makes things go fast by getting his hands dirty in a range of unique engineering projects. Along the way celebrities well known in the world of speed help him in his challenges.

In the opening episode Guy recruits an unlikely team made up of a truck racer, an Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott, a bicycle builder and a design engineer more used to working on next-generation military aircraft, to attempt, with the aid of slipstreaming, to break the British record for outright speed on a bicycle - an incredible 110mph.

In the second film Guy is on a mission to do the seemingly impossible – fly using muscle power alone. He wants to build the world's fastest human powered aircraft - a plane without an engine that Guy will cycle into the air. He heads to Southampton University, where on November 9th 1961, Derek Piggot became the first man to fly under his own power.

He then attempts to set the world record for riding a motorcycle on the surface of water. With the help of a Cambridge professor and a team of marine engineers, Guy's stunt hinges on Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion - where every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If he can maintain enough speed on his bike, the 250 year old theory says he should be able to achieve the seemingly impossible - ride on water. In the final daredevil quest, Guy sets out to break the record for the world's fastest gravity powered sled. With the help of the UK's top sports science engineers, athletes and experts in composite engineering Guy will first build, then try to ride the toboggan on the unforgiving slopes of the Swiss Alps and reclaim the record from a group of thrill-seeking Germans who set it three years ago.

Guy Martin is a third generation lorry mechanic who works full time at a garage in Grimsby. He was mending lawn mower engines by the age of six and started working in his father’s business at the age of 12, cycling seven miles to work every day in the school holidays. He’s fascinated by all things mechanical (several tattoos of obscure engine parts adorn his legs) and his proudest achievement to date is being called out on a rescue to fix Morrisey’s tour bus.

He is also a motorcycle racer with an international reputation. His eccentric outlook on life, homespun turns of phrase and distinctive sideburns have resulted in a worldwide fan base of all ages. He models leathers for Italy’s top manufacturer but shuns the glamorous lifestyle many of his rivals embrace – Guy is more likely to sleep in the back of his beloved Transit van than a 5 star hotel, and is famous for preferring copious amounts of tea to lager or wine.

He competes in notoriously dangerous road races like the Isle of Man TT, and in 2010 survived a horrific 170mph fireball in which he broke his back in three places. He made a full recovery and a critically-acclaimed documentary feature film was made about the event - TT 3D: Closer to the Edge – it was released around the world and Guy was the star.

Away from work and motorbikes Guy enjoys endurance cycling and takes part in several 24 hour mountain bike races. He travelled to Austria for the hardest one day race in the world and was the top British finisher. His ambition in life is to work enough overtime so that he can afford to buy a Spitfire fighter jet engine to put in his front room.

Guy Martin: Speed is a North One Television production. Executive producers are James Woodroffe, Ewan Keil and Neil Duncanson.

Channel 4 commissions series two of The Mill

Channel 4 has commissioned DSP, an Endemol company, to produce a second series of The Mill, the historical drama set in the early nineteenth century, following its success this summer.

The Mill was the first-ever collaboration between factual and drama at Channel 4 and the two departments will continue to work together with Julia Harrington (Commissioning Editor for History) and Sophie Gardiner (Commissioning Editor for Drama) once again working in partnership.

The new six-part series will cover the period between 1838 -1842 and focus on a time of great political change following the Poor Act Amendment of 1834 which made a distinction between “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. This is the time of the great chartist rallies and the birth of modern democracy with the movement for the right for working class people to vote sweeping across the country.

As with series one, much of filming will take place at the National Trust’s Quarry Bank in Cheshire which was owned and run by the influential Greg family. It will continue to be inspired by Quarry Bank’s extensive archive and delve further into the lives of the mill workers and the mill owners.

The Mill is a distinctly Channel 4 take on costume drama, showing history from the bottom up – a worm’s eye view. The narrative is driven by a young, spirited cast whoepict a moment in history when the working classes were beginning to demand a say in their own lives.

As well as picking up where it left off with characters such as feisty Liverpudlian apprentice Esther Price (Kerrie Hayes) and progressive young engineer Daniel Bate (Matthew McNulty), series two will introduce new characters, including John Howlett and his family, economic migrants in search of work in the booming north, and a handsome apprentice shoemaker called Will Whittaker.

Series one of The Mill broke Channel 4 viewing figure records when the first episode reached a consolidated figure of 3.8 million, with the series averaging 3.2 million. It was the highest rating drama opening on Channel 4 since ‘This is England ’88’ in 2010. Filming is scheduled to take place from February 2014.

Julia Harrington of Channel 4 says, “The Mill is that rare thing - a period drama that resonates with 21st century life. It is a massive pleasure to bring it back. Series two is the next chapter in the life of Esther Price, our troublemaking mill girl drawn from the Quarry Bank archives.”

Emily Roe, Creative Director at DSP, says of the recommission: “We are delighted that Channel 4 has decided to recommission The Mill. It was a passion project for DSP from the start and we are enormously grateful that Channel 4 had the vision and courage to back it. The collaboration of the history and drama departments has been inspiring. We are really excited about the rich vein of social history we are tapping into for series two.”

John Fay (Coronation Street) who penned the popular first series, will write three of the six episodes, and lead the writing team working on the second series. The series will be produced by Johnathan Young, and overseen at DSP by Emily Roe, Creative Director of DSP.

The Mill is distributed by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.

Notes to Editors:

Quarry Bank is one of Britain’s greatest industrial heritage sites. It comprises an 18th century cotton mill with working machinery, restored Victorian Apprentice House, mill workers’ village and country estate set in the valley of the River Bollin at Styal in Cheshire. The National Trust acquired the mill estate in 1939, and it was first opened to the public in 1958. Quarry Bank itself is of international importance, due to the mill and its original estate surviving virtually intact. Elsewhere, similar complexes have lost many of their original buildings, or ownership has become fragmented. The real Greg family was one of the leading industrial families of the period, with five mills employing thousands of workers.

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